SPRING IN THE GARDEN 2022

My posts are filled with the doom and gloom of the prolonged drought so it is time to showcase some of the bright spots in my spring garden. Although the freesias are almost over now, they brought great joy for their blooms have been more prolific and have lasted for longer than in previous years. Most of them are white and then there are these:

The rosemary bush growing near our front door is covered with flowers – again more than we have been able to enjoy for ever so long. It must be thanks to some of the light rain that fell during the latter part of August:

Plumbago blossoms are always a delight: the first ones are coming out now and so before long there will be masses of these lovely blue flowers in the garden:

We inherited several golden shower creepers with the garden and these thrive with no help from me at all:

This iris is part of a clump given to me by my brother in Gauteng – I love how plants can provide connections between people!

Lastly, even though there are a few more splashes of colour, I must highlight the dianthus seedlings that are showing a new lease of life after the rain:

SIX EASTERN CAPE FLOWERS

A number of wild flowers brighten up the Eastern Cape landscape during the year. A small, yet bright, flower that grows in the grasslands and blooms intermittently throughout the year is the very pretty Jamesbrittenia microphylla, also known as purple phlox:

I count myself fortunate to see examples of Tritonia securigera, or orange tritonia, as they often appear as single blooms with no others nearby:

Indigenous throughout the eastern parts of South Africa is the very beautiful Plumbago auriculata, commonly known simply as plumbago or Cape leadwort. It has become a popular plant for gardens and so it is special to see it growing in the wild:

Then there is the Carpobrotus edulis. one of the many in this family commonly known as sour fig. It blooms during the late winter into the spring:

Flowers I look forward to every winter and never tire of is Aloe ferox, sometimes called bitter aloe. It is one of the most widely distributed aloes and grows well in dry areas – blooming from about May through to August:

Lastly is the very beautiful Schotia brachypetala, known as tree fuchsia or the weeping boer-boon. It generally flowers from spring into early summer:

MY FEBRUARY 2022 GARDEN

Once again the lack of rain coupled with high daily temperatures and a lack of piped water means that even the trees in my garden are shrivelling. During the cooler part of this morning I walked around to photograph things that caught my eye. The first is a pot of Dianthus in different hues of pink. These were planted in December, so have done well.

Flowers such as these really only survive in pots; indigenous flowers such as the Wild Garlic (Tulbaghia violacea), thrive even during the drought.

Hanging over the swimming pool are the beautiful plumbago flowers that are also brightening up the veld during this period of heat and aridity.

Even though it is not an indigenous plant, the Frangipani does not seem to mind the trying weather conditions either. While it is not blooming as profusely as it does during the ‘good’ years, its flowers are always welcome.

Of course most gardens contain a share of spiders. This one was sunning itself in the centre of its web that is almost invisible against the background of the wall.

Lastly, I was rather taken aback to see this rain spider keeping watch over its nest.

PLUMBAGO II

The regular appearance of the pretty blue Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) blooms both in our garden and all over the Eastern Cape veld is uplifting – whatever the weather.

The name Plumbago is derived from plumbum meaning lead, as it was once thought to be a cure for lead poisoning – which has been discounted. Auriculata means ear-shaped and refers to the leaf base. This probably why one of its common names is Cape leadwort. It is known as blousyselbos in Afrikaans.

We have several of these shrubs growing in our garden; some deliberately planted and others that have made themselves at home. The easiest method of propagation is to remove rooted suckers from the mother plant. Apart from its delicate blue flowers, a real bonus in this part of the world is that the Plumbago is tolerant of heat and is drought-resistant. It grows well in the sunlight and flowers less prolifically in the shade.

The tenaciousness of the Plumbago is evident where these shrubs have been grazed to ground level – yet they still flower!

There are sticky, gland tipped hairs on the flower calyx as well as on the seed capsule. My grandchildren have enjoyed utilising this stickiness to make ‘earrings’ with the flowers.

Plumbago provides a food source for butterflies and I have often seen birds such as Cape White-eyes, Speckled Mousebirds and Greater Double-collared Sunbirds visiting these shrubs. One year a Cape Robin-chat chose to nest in the Plumbago near our front path.

SOME WILDFLOWERS BLOOMING

One of the joys of living in the Eastern Cape is the abundance of plumbago blooming in gardens and all over the veld:

There are also these trumpet-shaped white flowers which I have not yet identified:

The Schotia afra is putting forth its scarlet blooms too:

The mother-in-laws-tongue (Sanseviera hyacinthoides) that has been flowering in the veld is also coming into bloom in my garden:

Looking very pretty in bare patches are a variety of succulents such as this ice-plant:

Lastly, are the crossberries that are coming into flower: